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HMS NEPTUNE 1797



HMS was a 98-gun second rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy.  She served on a number of stations during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and was present at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

For the Battle of Trafalgar, under Nelson's plan, the most powerful ships in the fleet would head up the two columns. There are two reasons for this. First, the lead ships would be better placed to absorb the punishment. Second, the initial strike had to be powerful to demoralize the enemy.   Thus the giant three-decked ships should be in the front.

HMS Neptune was placed at the third place in Nelson's Column, together with her sister ships HMS Temeraire and HMS Leviathan.

Prior to going into action, Captain Fremantle had written in his personal log, complaining about being placed in third despite of HMS Neptune's lack of speed.  The ship had a reputation as a slow sailer.  However, at the battle, he set the ship's studding sails and by 10am, Neptune was about to overtake HMS Victory's lead.  Nelson ordered a signal to be hoisted "Neptune, take in your studding sails and drop astern, I shall break the line myself".

HMS Neptune endured the long, drawn out approach to the enemy line with her band playing. Everyone on deck except the officers and the Marine band lay down to protect them from the hail of incoming fire.  At 1:45pm, HMS Neptune passed the stern of the French flagship Bucentaure, firing a double-shotted broadside from her port guns from a mere 30 yards.  This caused carnage on the enemy's open gundecks and brought down the ship's main and mizzen masts.   Fremantle then had the helm swung hard to starboard, bringing his ship abeam of the Bucentaure.  He fired two more triple-shotted broadsides from nearly 50 guns at a range of less than 100 yards into the beleaguered French ship.

Fremantle then spotted the towering mass of the Spanish four-decker Santísima Trinidad sailing away.  The gigantic Spanish  ship Santissima Trinidad which was the largest and most powerful ship in the world at that time, mounting 140 guns on four gundecks, did not intimidate Fremantle.  He steered Neptune towards her starboard quarter in hopes of raking her stern.  Opening fire with his larboard battery, he positioned Neptune off the Spanish vessel's starboard beam and the two exchanged heavy fire for the next hour.  

Neptune took fire from other ships of the combined fleet as they sailed past. Santísima Trinidad, heavily battered by Neptune'​s guns, as well as those from the 74-gun ships HMS Leviathan and HMS Conqueror, became completely dismasted and covered in debris. She bravely fought on until 5.30pm, when she struck her colors, having sustained casualties of 205 dead and 103 wounded!

During the battle HMS Neptune suffered considerable damage to her masts, although they did not fall.  Most of her rigging was cut to pieces.  The ship suffered nine shot holes around her waterline.  Miracuously, she sustained only ten casualties and 34 wounded. 

After the battle Collingwood transferred his flag from the damaged HMS Royal Sovereign to the frigate HMS Euryalus, and on October 22nd Neptune took the Royal Sovereign in tow.

The weather by now was beginning to deteriorate, so HMS Neptune sent her boats to assist in the evacuation of the prize ship Santissima Trinidad before she foundered.  After riding out the storm, HMS Neptune took the badly damaged HMS Victory in tow on 26th October and towed her into Gibraltar, arriving on 28th. 

 
 
 
 

This Neptune model is being built for a distinguished Trafalgar collector.  Dimensions: 42" x 31" x 13".   Work commenced in Sept. 2014 and ended in March, 2015.   To commission a similar one or any tall ship model, please email us an inquiry.